A New Year

So, it’s 2017. I didn’t start this year with any resolutions, because I think the concept is ridiculous — if I have something to accomplish, I’m not going to wait for a specific date on the calendar to start working toward it.

But, that being said, New Year’s Eve does tend to make me reflective. This year I had a lot to reflect on. I know this post is kind of late, in that regard, but today is important to me — because one year ago today, on January 15th 2016, I started writing my novel. A year ago I started down the path that led to launching a career in publishing before I’d even had my 25th birthday. My novel still isn’t published, but that’s okay. I still accomplished a lot.

And a lot of that a lot was writing. I haven’t finished totalling up the poetry yet, because it’s scattered in different notebooks and scrap bits of paper and .rtf files on my computer, but I have already compiled 15 poems — one of which was published — as ones that I will polish and keep as finished products. I still have pages to dig through, and I wouldn’t be surprised if that number reached 25.

I was even more prolific in my fiction writing. I produced 137, 896 words of fiction this year. 53k of that was my novel, and about 11-12k was short original fiction. 73.5k was in fanfiction.

That’s a lot of writing. When I added up my totals, I couldn’t believe it. How could I have produced so much, when on a day-to-day basis I was always disappointed in how little I’d managed to produce? When I wasn’t writing every day?

I think part of it is that every bit matters. It all counts. I think the other important factor is that this was the first calendar year I didn’t have any scholastic responsibilities to fulfil. I was able to devote my primary focus in 2016 to my writing.

As much as I want to be able to do the same this year, to meet and even exceed the output I managed last year, I don’t know if that will be possible. I suspect it won’t, for a number of reasons. The primary one being that I enter 2017 only to leave my family home. It’s a big change, but one I’m looking forward to. That does not mean, however, that it comes without it’s anxieties or time-consuming tasks. It’s a major life change, and those always make it harder to write.

I’m also embracing some other changes in 2017, small shifts that have already had a big impact on how I experience life. Little things, like deciding that I don’t have to “earn” the after-dinner cookie, or the really good loose leaf tea, that I can just have them because they make me feel good. Making the decision to take the odd night off dish duty to just relax, and catch up the next day. Putting effort into getting good sleep not only because it’s important to my health or medication schedule or grades, but because I deserve to wake up feeling rested and alert, and to not feel the deep-muscle aches that come with too little sleep for too long. I’ve stopped pushing myself to do more than I should — decided that, even though I could, technically, do [x] chore before bed, it would leave me aching and struggling to sleep, so it can wait until tomorrow.

I seem to be in the minority of people for whom 2016 was not a raging garbage fire. In all honesty, I broke even last year, with the good balancing out the bad. This the first time I can remember that being true. But in 2017, I’m aiming higher than “even”. I have a lot of hope for this year, and I’m going to do what I can to make it a good one.

I wish all of you the best of luck in 2017, too.

~

I think this goes without saying, but as we live in a world of rampant asshattery, please allow me to state for the record: this is my intellectual property. As such, please do not copy, circulate, edit, alter, take credit for, or otherwise appropriate this material without my express permission. Thank you.

Well, This Sucks

So . . . shitty news. Specifically, on the writing front.

Turd the First: the publisher I submitted my novel to sent me a rejection letter last week. They were pretty awesome about it, made it clear that it probably wasn’t because I suck at what I do, but it was still a form-letter and it absolutely sucks.

I’m still hurting about this one. I wrote that novel specifically for this open call. I knew it was kind of a long shot, but still. I hoped.

Regardless, I’m not giving up on it. I’ll need some time to feel shitty about it, but then I plan on re-reading, revising if needed, and sending it somewhere else. Maybe some other publisher will be interested in it. I can’t say “it doesn’t hurt to try” because, actually, it does hurt, but I’m gonna try anyway.

Turd the Second: apparently Torquere LLC, the publisher that first told me “yes” and published my short story “Closer”, is going under. There has been a lot of talk over several months that’s made me uneasy, but I chose to have faith in the owners and editors. I decided to move forward with the contract I signed. It turns out that that was probably a mistake.

This makes me feel absolutely heartsick. I feel like I was taken advantage of, because I was so very, very new to the publishing world. This, combined with the rejection, has me wondering if my dream of being a writer is laughable. The idea of submitting my works to other publishers and finding out later that they’re untrustworthy is not only exhausting, it’s disheartening.

I don’t know what, exactly, my next move will be here. I’ve contacted someone in the industry with experience, and plan on reaching out to others. I’m going to try and get more information before deciding what my next move is. The only thing I know for sure, though, is that I won’t stop writing. I can’t. I’m simply not capable of it.

I might, however, take a bit of a break from it. Just for a little while. Maybe. More because I have a lot of other things going on in my life right now — upcoming holidays, the anniversary of Motherunit’s expiration, sorting out my health — than because of this whole debacle, but still. Putting pressure on myself to write when I’m overtaxed and my heart isn’t in it is a bad idea.

~

I think this goes without saying, but as we live in a world of rampant asshattery, please allow me to state for the record: this is my intellectual property. As such, please do not copy, circulate, edit, alter, take credit for, or otherwise appropriate this material without my express permission. Thank you.

 

It’s Official

I’m a writer. Not just in the sense of “this is who and what I am” but also in the sense that I HAVE BEEN PUBLISHED. There is a career trajectory, now.

Which. Exciting! But also scary. I haven’t heard back on the book, but I’ve had a piece of poetry published in ImageOutWrite Vol. 5, and a piece of my short fiction was just published by Torquere. The short story is part of the Harvest Moon anthology.

Getting here wasn’t easy. There were a lot of speed-bumps and obstacles along the way, and I know that this is just the beginning. I have to hope that my writing catches people’s attention, and that I can build a readership. I have to keep writing, even when my insecurities whisper that I can’t do this, that the publications I have only happened through luck, that I’m not actually that good. I have to keep telling the stories that make my heart sing, even when it would be easier to follow trends and convention.

But you know what? For right now, I’m just going to celebrate a little.

~

I think this goes without saying, but as we live in a world of rampant asshattery, please allow me to state for the record: this is my intellectual property. As such, please do not copy, circulate, edit, alter, take credit for, or otherwise appropriate this material without my express permission. Thank you.

 

Writing Confession:

I have never, ever, not once in my life, written a second draft. I honestly do not understand the concept.

Looking through most writing guides, you hear over and over again that “good writing is rewriting” and that you should expect most of your first draft to be shit. That the second draft is where you fix plot holes, cut out unnecessary scenes or chapters, where you fix problems with your structure and add more to the parts that are lacking. It is, supposedly, where you do “the real work” and where your piece of fiction or poetry becomes more authentically you.

And, uh. I’m looking around thinking, You people don’t this on the first go-round?

Because here is the thing: by the time I sit down and start writing a story, I already know what kind of story I want to tell. I know what I want to make my readers feel. I know what structure I will use to achieve that, because I’m all about letting form follow function. Certain stories have more impact when told in a non-linear fashion, where other stories benefit from the crisp minimalism provided by drabble sets. Other stories are better told in past or present tense. Depending on what kind of story I’m telling, on who the characters are and what the primary conflict is, I might write from one character’s perspective, or two, or even head-hop. But I know all of this before I set the first word on the page.

Because by the time I sit down to write a story, I have pages upon pages of notes. I have notes about character backstories and world-building. I have a plot outline. I have a timeline to refer to, if the story is taking place over a number of days (or even weeks, or months) and the passage of time is important in the story. I have answered questions about potential plot holes. I have presented the basic idea to my writing friends, and then answered their questions in my pages of notes. I have usually brainstormed three different endings, and made notes about how each will play out and what it would mean to the story as a whole.

I take days to create an entire world inside my head before I set my fingers to my keyboard and start setting it free. I re-write as I go — I might change a particular sentence or paragraph five times before I move on. I go back and re-read, adjust word choices and tweak dialogue and cut sentences when I’m still in the middle of the project. I am ruthless as I write. Description is kept to a minimum — if it’s not important to the character whose head I’m writing from, then it doesn’t need to be there. Every interaction and scene has to serve at least two of the following purposes: 1) furthering the plot/ developing the primary conflict; 2) development of one or more characters in the scene; 3) exposition; and 4) drawing connections between cause and effect, past events in the story and the present moment, and/or between characters. Ideally, it should be doing all four.

So maybe the real reason I have never written a second draft is that, really, I’ve never written a first one.
~

I think this goes without saying, but as we live in a world of rampant asshattery, please allow me to state for the record: this is my intellectual property. As such, please do not copy, circulate, edit, alter, take credit for, or otherwise appropriate this material without my express permission. Thank you.

Commentary on “Writing Advice”

Most of the writing advice I see coming from the so-called experts or prolific writers makes me so mad I could breathe fire. It’s things like, “a writer writes”, “you have to write every day”, “there’s no such thing as writer’s block”, “it’s all about butt-in-chair dedication”, “don’t ever look back on the earlier stages of what you’ve written, just keep moving forward” etc. And what all of these pieces of advice have in common is that they are trying to tell other people what their creative process should look like.

Newsflash: it doesn’t work that way.

I’ve talked to a lot of writers about their processes. And what I have found is that no two of them are alike, because no two people are exactly alike. One writer I know is able to produce two thousand words per day, every day, which is tremendously productive and also highly intimidating. Another writer I know writes long-hand, in a notebook, and types her stories out afterward. Another writer I know is able to write in coffee shops, secluded corners, libraries, you name it. One writer lets the story run away with them, while another has to plot everything out carefully, in another document. The method and process that produces a particular writer’s best work will vary by the person, which makes trying to give generalized advice to aspiring authors useless. More than that, it can be incredibly discouraging.

Because you know what else a lot of this advice doesn’t take into account? That not everyone is perfectly healthy in mind and body. One writer I know has bouts of crippling anxiety over words—and not just in fiction, but in emails and informal communication. Another writer lives in chronic pain, and sometimes that pain is so bad that they cannot write, or go to work, or even get out of bed. And then there’s me. If I have a PTSD event, it can take a couple of days for my brain to settle and go back to functioning as close to normal as it’s capable of, and I don’t have the focus or emotional resources to write during that time.

And that isn’t my fault, or something I should be shamed for. Writing is individual, like every other art. Sure, you can go to school for it—but that doesn’t automatically make you good. Just like practising and self-teaching doesn’t automatically make you bad or inferior to someone who got the formal education. Every writer will have a unique method or combination of them for getting their best stories out—because it’s not really about how fast you write or how many words you get out in a day. It’s about the quality of the story you’re telling.
~
I think this goes without saying, but as we live in a world of rampant asshattery, please allow me to state for the record: this is my intellectual property. As such, please do not copy, circulate, edit, alter, take credit for, or otherwise appropriate this material without my express permission. Thank you.

The wonderfully snarky individual previously referred to as “Card-Geek” will be referred to from here on out as “Alex”, and backdated content will be changed accordingly.

Because I love my people, and if I’m going to blog about them, I need to be respectful of their wishes. For my own peace of mind, if nothing else.

*blows kisses*

~

I think this goes without saying, but as we live in a world of rampant asshattery, please allow me to state for the record: this is my intellectual property. As such, please do not copy, circulate, edit, alter, take credit for, or otherwise appropriate this material without my express permission. Thank you.

 

Another Official Edit

News and Changes

So, I’ve talked before (a lot) about writing, and the possibility of being published. Recently, I mentioned that I finished writing a book. But what I didn’t mention is that my writing projects didn’t exactly stop there.

Because I decided “what the hell?” and responded to some open calls for short fiction. Short, queer fiction, to be precise. And I heard back from one of them — Torquere Press. They want to publish one of the short stories I’ve written for them.

And, on the one hand? OMG, DREAM COME TRUE, I’M OVER THE MOON. On the other? It means that some things will have to change.

For starters, it might get a lot more busy round here. And I will have to change my name on this blog to reflect the name I’m publishing under. “Dominique Hayes” is who I’ve been on here for three years, and it feels . . . strange, for want a better word, to think about changing that. To give that up.

I’m trying to remind myself that not all change is bad. That this is less a loss than it is an evolution. Everything else is going to remain the same, here. This is still my corner of the interwebz, still the place I get to post thinky thoughts and rants, weird anecdotes and OMGWHAT? moments. This is still the place I get to write, and share that. This is still the place where I developed my voice.

It’s also going to be the place I let readers find me. Which. It’s odd, that the idea scares me so much when that was why I started this blog in the first place, but there’s a degree of safety in being an anonymous nobody on the internet. In having a readership under 50 people. It’s scary, to be one step closer to achieving a dream I’ve been quietly feeding for the better part of two decades.

But carpe diem, right? So, here goes. Goodbye, Dominique Hayes.

Hello, K. Martin.

~

I think this goes without saying, but as we live in a world of rampant asshattery, please allow me to state for the record: this is my intellectual property. As such, please do not copy, circulate, edit, alter, take credit for, or otherwise appropriate this material without my express permission. Thank you.